Labour minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: GCIS/.JAIRUS MMUTLE
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: GCIS/.JAIRUS MMUTLE

The rule of thumb in SA politics is that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again to shift the blame elsewhere. It’s an easy fallback.

So it’s been no great surprise to see labour minister Thulas Nxesi invoke that playbook in trying to spin the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) fiasco.

Nxesi is now trying to blame employers for the unconscionable delays in temporary employee relief scheme (Ters) payments meant to cushion the impact of Covid-19, saying the companies haven’t paid the benefits over to their workers.

To be clear: until May 27, any attempt by an employer to lodge a Ters application on the UIF website was met with the following message: "We have not started accepting Ters applications for May yet."

At the time, the UIF blamed either a damaged fibre-optic cable, or a system stress-test gone wrong. Or both. You got the impression they were only a beat away from blaming George Soros, Bill Gates or 5G for their failure.

But it meant the UIF only started paying benefits for May in mid-June. By payday in June, a million workers were still waiting for their May money.

It comes on top of the bureaucratic tap-dance companies had to perform just to lodge applications in the first place. It’s shameful: officials who blame struggling employers for its own administrative failings have no place in government.

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